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“The Life and Times of the Real Robyn Hoode” by Mark Olly
With no proven, undisputed historical evidence being available as to just who Robin Hood actually was, the “man or myth” conundrum has continued to be a mystery that has fascinated generation after generation and turned the English folklore hero into an iconic global legend. Consequently, there are numerous speculative and plausible theories about his existence, lineage, birthplace and burial site etc. to keep academics and enthusiasts occupied for years to come or until there is an extremely unlikely “Richard III moment” when someone discovers a DNA linked skeleton!
In the meantime, historians and individuals fastidiously comb through centuries of manuscripts and medieval records to try to piece together the intriguing puzzle that is further complicated by a blurring of the historic fact and the development and fusing of the tales into traditional folklore legend. In fact, it is often said that Robin Hood has become a million times richer as an icon of popular culture than as a genuine historical figure!
Whatever your views and opinions, Mark Olly’s “The Life and Times of the Real Robyn Hoode” is an excellent place to start.
Using literary archaeology, the author has logically brought together the historical background authenticated by existing material and records and produced a credible timeline into which the various aspects, characters and locations associated with the legend can be feasibly connected. His decision to place all the original source texts relating to the life of the real Robyn Hoode in BOLD TYPE so it can be read as a complete separate narrative if desired and to show all the source manuscripts and quotes in Italics, also helps the reader to differentiate between the origins of the material.
Mark has deliberately avoided getting “side-tracked” by the explosion of contemporary popular culture associated with the legend and perhaps the book’s greatest achievement lies in the style of writing and presentation. Although it is packed with interesting, relevant information, this is not a “stuffy” reference source and in its easy- to-read 202 pages Mark Olly has compactly set out the background for any interested readers to “investigate” the complexity of the Robin Hood legend for themselves.
Over the years, I have read and reviewed many Robin Hood related books, both fact and fiction and in my opinion this is one of the best recent reference works on the subject.
Bob White, Chairman, World Wide Robin Hood Society.
“The Life and Times of the Real Robyn Hoode” by Mark Olly is published in paperback by Chronos Books and priced at £9.99.